MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XXII No. 3
January / February 2010
Our "Inescapable Network:"
Haiti, the Diversity Initiative, and MLK
Report on the Initiative for Faculty Race and Diversity: Excerpts and Commentary
The Haiti Challenge: Are We Doing Enough?
Responding to the Earthquake:
A Workshop, Lecture Series, and More
Building a Network of Organizations
in the Haitian Diaspora
Short- and Long-Term Responses
to the Tragedy in Haiti
The Initiative on Faculty Race and Diversity:
A Personal View (Bailyn)
The Initiative on Faculty Race and Diversity:
A Personal View (Hammond)
Counting Faculty and Students
Reflections on MIT's Layoff Process
HR and MIT's Layoff Process
The Demand for MIT Graduates
Toward a Personalized Graduate Curriculum
2010 MIT Briefing Book Available Online
NRC Doctoral Rankings:
The Weighting Game
Planning for the Future of the MIT Libraries
Stellar LMS Evaluation FAQ
Teaching this spring? You should know . . .
Percent Underrepresented Minority (URM) Hires, 1991-2009
Printable Version

Stellar LMS Evaluation FAQ


What is Stellar?

Stellar is MIT’s online platform for learning and course management []. Faculty use Stellar to centrally organize course materials, assignments, and class activities, while students use it to access their course work. From a Stellar course site, instructors have the ability to post class announcements, e-mail their class, upload lecture notes, and release solutions to PSETs – all electronically and all online. Course administrators also have access to a host of tools that allow them to manage everything from course membership to recitation selection to student grades (via the Stellar Gradebook pilot).

Currently, Stellar hosts over 1000 sites for nearly 800 courses across all of MIT’s Schools, departments, and programs.

Why a Learning Management System (LMS) Evaluation?

The Stellar platform, launched in 2001, is showing signs of age. Its architecture cannot be effectively extended to support the breadth of use cases and teaching models at MIT.

What has been done to evaluate a LMS?

IS&T began the Learning Management Systems (LMS) evaluation project in 2008. The goal: to find the best combination of features and functionality that can be effectively supported with a reasonable commitment of resources.
After verifying and documenting key Stellar use cases and features, IS&T worked with customers and stakeholders to validate requirements for a next-generation LMS for MIT. In spring 2009, IS&T evaluated several products and services – Moodle 1.9, MoodleRooms, Drupal 6, Sakai versions 2x and 3, and BlackBoard versions 8 and 9 – against functional requirements, data dependencies, and other key criteria for an LMS. In summer 2009, IS&T presented recommendations to stakeholder groups, with Drupal 6, Sakai 3, and BlackBoard 9 suggested as the most viable platforms.

How will the decision be made?

The LMS Evaluation project is sponsored by the Faculty Advisory Committee on Learning Management Systems. The Committee is a group comprised of faculty, staff, and students committed to providing IS&T with views of the faculty (and other interested stakeholders) on the features and strategic directions for a supported learning management system. The Faculty Advisory Committee works closely with IS&T. Since it is newly formed, the Committee is currently working with IS&T to determine the relevant criteria, collect data from inside and outside of MIT, re-examine platforms, and provide direction on the future of LMS at MIT.

Will Stellar go away?

No. Similar to how operating systems or cell phone technologies upgrade regularly, Stellar NG will be a better, more efficient, and feature-rich version of the existing Stellar. When Stellar NG is released to the community, IS&T will continue to support (the existing) Stellar for a period of time to allow departments to successfully migrate over to Stellar NG.

How do I provide input?

IS&T and the Faculty Advisory Committee encourage input from community members on MIT’s next LMS. Please send your comments to:


To learn more about the project, visit the LMS Evaluation wiki at: confluence/display/STLRNG.

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